Diana Clement: If resolutions don’t work, do this instead


Set intentions, not New Year’s resolutions for your finances in 2021. We all know that resolutions are a pass/fail. Goals are better, but intentions are even more likely to succeed.

The intentions idea came from the Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC). Like me, they know that by the end of January most resolutions have turned into great big fails.

Both resolutions and goals are about outcomes, whereas an intention is a course of action you intend to follow. It’s more about the process. Your intentions precede and then guide actions. They’re thoughts and we should all choose our thoughts well.

The intention angle is one that resonated with a new healthy living goal I set at the end of the first lockdown. Someone said to me around that time that it’s “what you do next” that matters.

So when I skip exercise, eat chocolate or fail to drink the entire contents of my two-litre jug of water in the day, I remind myself of my intention by saying: “It’s what I do next that matters” and start the next day afresh. Looking forward in that way has really paid off instead of berating myself for the outcome that day. Fail too many times at a resolution and you give up.

Intentions involve you thinking more deeply than a resolution and they require that you keep coming back to the thought of how you’re going to get to your goal. Mantras and affirmations help you realise the intention.

The intention approach goes hand in hand with the mindfulness movement. As my contact at the CFFC pointed out: in the same way you might say “I intend to show acts of kindness today”, you might also say “I intend not to rely on credit so much”.

The mantra might be: “If I don’t have the cash, don’t buy it” or “Only one buy-now pay-later at a time”. The outcome is reaching the end of the year with fewer purchases on credit.

It’s a good idea to write down those intentions and stick them up on the fridge, back of the toilet door or a pinboard along with images of whatever it is you intend to do or not do.

As well as the healthy living, I have a short list of mantras/affirmations on my fridge that relate to keeping the house tidy. My intention is to keep the house tidy. One of the mantras to back up that intention is: “don’t put it down, put it away”.

Your mantras can be simple like my list that I repeat when putting down or picking up things. One of my simple financial mantras is: “do I really need it?”, which stops me from buying all sorts of rubbish, and keeps my house tidy at the same time. Now I have the “it’s what I do next that matters” mantra, which applies equally to financial matters.

Or they can be more meaningful if you need to overcome deep-seated difficulties that are holding you back financially. “My financial fate is not set in stone” or “I deserve to succeed financially”.

A new idea from me for 2021 is to choose a word or mantra of the month to inspire better money habits. For finances that might be words such as: “plan”, “balance”, “save” or “reduce”. A financial mantra of the month could be: “I can tackle money obstacles”, “I pay my bills before spending”, “I have enough”, “every dollar counts”, “start small”, or whatever it is that helps you.

The language we use has a lot to do whether we succeed or fail. Repeating words or mantras aimed at positive outcomes is how they sink into your sub conscious.

I’ve found with finances, healthy living, cleaning, zero waste and more, that a quick Google for “mantras” or “affirmations” along with whatever it is I want to improve, soon turns up the perfect motivational statements.

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